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Anger Symptoms, Causes and Effects


According to a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, close to 8 percent of adolescents display anger issues that qualify for lifetime diagnoses of intermittent explosive disorder. Anger issues aren’t limited to teens, and it’s important to understand anger symptoms, causes and effects if you suspect you are, or someone you know is, suffering from an anger disorder.

What Are the Types of Anger Disorders?


Individuals who have trouble controlling anger or who experience anger outside of a normal emotional scope can present with different types of anger disorders. Different experts have published contradicting lists of anger types, but some widely accepted forms of anger include:

  • Chronic anger, which is prolonged, can impact the immune system and be the cause of other mental disorders
  • Passive anger, which doesn’t always come across as anger and can be difficult to identify
  • Overwhelmed anger, which is caused by life demands that are too much for an individual to cope with
  • Self-inflicted anger, which is directed toward the self and may be caused by feelings of guilt
  • Judgmental anger, which is directed toward others and may come with feelings of resentment
  • Volatile anger, which involves sometimes-spontaneous bouts of excessive or violent anger


Passive Anger


People experiencing passive anger may not even realize they are angry. When you experience passive anger, your emotions may be displayed as sarcasm, apathy or meanness. You might participate in self-defeating behaviors such as skipping school or work, alienating friends and family, or performing poorly in professional or social situations. To outsiders, it will look like you are intentionally sabotaging yourself, although you may not realize it or be able to explain your actions.

Because passive anger may be repressed, it can be hard to recognize; counseling can help you identify the emotions behind your actions, bringing the object of your anger to light so you can deal with it.

Aggressive Anger

Individuals who experience aggressive anger are usually aware of their emotions, although they don’t always understand the true roots of their ire. In some cases, they redirect violent anger outbursts to scapegoats because it is too difficult to deal with the real problems. Aggressive anger often manifests as volatile or retaliatory anger and can result in physical damages to property and other people. Learning to recognize triggers and manage anger symptoms is essential to dealing positively with this form of anger.

What Causes Anger?

A leading cause of anger is a person’s environment. Stress, financial issues, abuse, poor social or familial situations, and overwhelming requirements on your time and energy can all contribute to the formation of anger. As with disorders such as alcoholism, anger issues may be more prevalent in individuals who were raised by parents with the same disorder. Genetics and your body’s ability to deal with certain chemicals and hormones also play a role in how you deal with anger; if your brain doesn’t react normally to serotonin, you might find it more difficult to manage your emotions.

What Are the Signs of an Anger Management Problem?

Losing your cool from time to time doesn’t mean you have an anger management problem. Mental health professionals look at trends in your behavior, emotional symptoms and physical symptoms to diagnose an anger disorder.

Emotional Symptoms of Anger-Related Problems

You might think the emotional symptom of anger-related problems are limited to anger, but a number of emotional states could indicate that you are failing to deal with anger in a positive and healthy fashion. Constant irritability, rage and anxiety are possible emotional symptoms.

If you feel overwhelmed, have trouble organizing or managing your thoughts or fantasize about hurting yourself or others, you could be experiencing an anger disorder or another issue. Don’t wait for these emotions to take control of your life; maintain control by calling our hotline today at 1-855-423-5350. Representatives are available to listen and offer advice 24/7.

Physical Symptoms of Anger-Related Problems

Strong emotions often bring about physical changes to the body, and anger is no exception. Letting anger issues go unaddressed can put your overall health at risk. Some physical symptoms of anger-related problems include:

  • Tingling
  • Heart palpitations or tightening of the chest
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Pressure in the head or sinus cavities
  • Fatigue

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Anxiety

Unresolved anger issues lead to anxiety, which can have long-term effects on your life. Immediate effects of anxiety might include dizziness, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle pain, muscle tension, headaches, and problems with concentration and memory. Such symptoms can make it difficult to perform routine tasks and can add to generalized anger about life.

Long-term anxiety can pose dangerous risks to your physical and emotional states. Individuals who suffer from long bouts of anxiety can be at a greater risk for strokes. Serious memory loss, chronic sleep disorders and relationship issues can also develop. Before your anger and anxiety wreak havoc with your entire life, find out what you can do to stop the cycle by calling 1-855-423-5350.

Is There a Test or Self-Assessment I Can Do?

A number of self-assessment tests are available online to help you to recognize any anger and anxiety issues you may be experiencing. If you take an online test, it’s a good idea to ensure that it was written and published by someone recognized as an expert in the mental health field.

Even if the test is offered by a reputable organization, you should never allow a self-diagnosis or an online test to direct your course of treatment. Individuals who think they might be suffering from anger issues should speak to professional counselors, family physicians or volunteers from local healthcare organizations.

Anger Medication: Anti-Anger Drug Options

Mental health professionals recommend counseling, group therapy sessions and anger management classes as treatment options for anger disorders. In some cases, medication may be helpful in controlling emotions and chemical reactions in the body that lead to uncontrollable anger.

Anger Drugs: Possible Options

The type of drugs prescribed will depend on individual circumstances and take into account other diagnoses. Possible options include:

  • Prozac or other antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines known to treat anxiety, such as Klonopin
  • Lithium or other medications known to stabilize mood

Medication Side Effects

According to reports, up to 50 percent of patients on lithium experience renal-related side effects. These effects are usually reversed by medical care or discontinuation of the drug but serve as a good illustration of why you should only take medication for anger symptoms while under the care of a physician. Other side effects for different anger-related medications include:

  • Nausea
  • Increased thirst
  • Changes in thought patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Addiction

Anti-Anger Drug Addiction, Dependence and Withdrawal

It’s important to understand whether your anti-anger drug could be addictive. Addiction to the drug will depend on your own personality, your body’s chemical makeup and the drug itself. Discuss the dangers associated with dependence and withdrawal with your healthcare provider, and make sure you follow instructions regarding the dosage closely. If you experience side effects, find yourself wanting more of the medication, or are unable to stop taking the medication, talk to your doctor immediately.

Medication Overdose

To reduce the chance of medication overdose, always follow dosage requirements. If you experience health issues while taking the medication, report them immediately to the prescribing physician because physical symptoms could be an indicator that your dose is too high.

Depression and Anger

Depression and anger go hand in hand and can cause a revolving cycle that’s hard to break. Lashing out in anger can lead to alienation and feelings of guilt, which can lead to depression. Long-term depression can make it difficult to handle emotions, increasing the likelihood of anger outbursts. Often, the only way to break this cycle is to seek professional help.

If you are dealing with feelings of depression or anger, contact us today at 1-855-423-5350. Our operators are ready to help you find local treatment options so you can get back on track with life.

Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and Anger

Drug and alcohol addictions can decrease your ability to deal with anger. It’s important to seek treatment options that deal with emotional and physical issues related to your disorder. A treatment program that addresses anger without dealing with addiction leaves you vulnerable to emotional issues in the future. Likewise, attending a group to discuss your addiction without mentioning your struggle with anger makes it likely you’ll use drugs or alcohol to deal with emotional pain in the future.

Getting Help for Anger-Related Problems

The first step to taking control of your life is to seek help for your anger-related problem. Treatment resources include inpatient facilities, outpatient programs, individual and group therapy, and medication. Call us today at 1-855-423-5350 to find out what you can do to start on the path to recovery today. Learning about anger symptoms, causes and effects will help you address your disorder in a healthy and positive way.


PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Morgan Adams in Anger

Estimates suggest that up to 70 percent of American adults have experienced at least one significant trauma during their lifetimes. Many of those people may subsequently have suffered from an emotional reaction known as posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Further estimates suggest that 5 percent of the population currently lives with PTSD. What Is PTSD? Posttraumatic stress disorder occurs in some cases when people are exposed to a very stressful event, which is known as… PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Estimates suggest that up to 70 percent of American adults have experienced at least one significant trauma during their lifetimes. Many of those people may subsequently have suffered from an emotional reaction known as posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Further estimates suggest that 5 percent of the population currently lives with PTSD.

What Is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder occurs in some cases when people are exposed to a very stressful event, which is known as an extreme stress trigger. To be diagnosed with PTSD, they must continue to experience symptoms of PTSD for at least one month after exposure to this trigger.

Who Experiences PTSD?

Although women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD, anyone who experiences an extremely traumatic event may develop posttraumatic stress disorder. Examples of extreme stress triggers include:

  • Criminal assault or rape
  • Natural disasters
  • Serious accidents
  • Combat exposure
  • Child physical or sexual abuse or severe neglect
  • Witnessing traumatic events
  • Imprisonment/hostage/displacement as refugees
  • Torture
  • The sudden unexpected death of loved ones

Although other types of stress may be severe and can be quite upsetting, they typically do not result in PTSD. Such events might include the death of an elderly parent, divorce, or job loss.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

People living with PTSD typically experience three main types of symptoms. First, they may reexperience the traumatic event that led to developing PTSD. This can include:

  • Flashbacks in which they feel that the triggering event is recurring even while they are awake
  • Distressing recollections of the traumatic event
  • Nightmares of the event
  • Exaggerated physical and emotional reactions to triggers that remind them of the event

The second type of symptom involves emotional numbing or even avoidance. It may include the following symptoms or behaviors:

  • Avoidance of places, thoughts, activities, conversations, and feelings related to the event or trauma
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Loss of interest
  • Restricted emotions

The third symptom type relates to increased arousal related to the event and may be indicated by:

  • Outbursts of anger
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Hypervigilance
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Exaggerated startle responses

Related Conditions and Problems

In addition to the symptoms listed above, people with PTSD may face an array of other symptoms. With successful treatment, many of these symptoms will improve. The person with PTSD may require extra treatment to address the full scope of conditions related to PTSD.

Panic Attacks

People who have experienced a significant trauma may have panic attacks when they are exposed to a trigger that reminds them of the inciting trauma. For instance, someone who develops PTSD as a result of combat exposure may have a panic attack upon hearing a loud noise that reminds them of an explosion. During a panic attack, the person will commonly experience intense discomfort or fear. This may be accompanied by psychological or physical symptoms, which might include:

  • Sweating
  • Racing or pounding heart
  • Sortness of breath
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Numbness
  • Hot flushes
  • Tingling

People may experience a sense of detachment or may even feel as though they are dying, going crazy, or having heart attacks.

Severe Avoidance Behavior

One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is avoidance of anything that reminds the person of the original event. Avoidance can sometimes extend to everyday situations. In some cases, this type of avoidance becomes so severe that the individual is unable to leave his or her home.


Many people suffering from PTSD also experience depression. They may be unable to take pleasure or interest in activities they once enjoyed. Unjustified feelings of self-blame or guilt are common.

Suicidal Thoughts

In some instances, depression may become so severe that the person with PTSD experiences thoughts of suicide because of feelings that life is simply not worth continuing.

Substance Abuse

People with PTSD may also use drugs or alcohol in an effort to numb the pain they are experiencing. They may misuse over-the-counter drugs or prescription drugs. This substance abuse can magnify the symptoms of PTSD.

Treatments for PTSD

There are two primary types of treatment available for PTSD: psychotherapy and medication. Some people are able to fully recover from posttraumatic stress disorder using psychotherapy alone, but others need a combination of both treatments to achieve full recovery.

Psychotherapy alone is often best for people who experience mild symptoms, those who should not take medication due to pregnancy or because they are breastfeeding, and people who prefer not to take medication.

Medication may be a good option for individuals with severe symptoms or those who have lived with their symptoms for a long time. People who have additional psychiatric problems such as anxiety or depression may also require medication.


Professionals may use three types of psychotherapy when treating PTSD: cognitive therapy, anxiety management, and exposure therapy. If they are treating children with PTSD, they may also use play therapy. During anxiety management, patients learn how to better cope with their symptoms through relaxation training, breathing retraining, and positive thinking and self-talk. Therapists may teach patients how to control their anxiety and fear by relaxing the major muscle groups in their bodies, one at a time. In order to deal with hyperventilation, therapists teach patients how to use slow breathing techniques to combat tingling, dizziness, and palpitations. During positive thinking and self-talk, therapists help people to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts when they are faced with reminders of the original trauma. Therapists may also use assertiveness training to teach patients how to express their emotions without pushing others away.


Several types of medication are available to help treat someone with posttraumatic stress disorder. These include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antianxiety medications.

People with acute PTSD who have had symptoms for fewer than three months may require medication for between six and 12 months. Individuals with chronic PTSD who have had symptoms for longer than three months may need medication for a minimum of one year. In some instances, people may relapse and begin to experience symptoms after they have ceased therapy and stopped taking medication. This can happen even years after the end of the treatment. If this happens, they may need to resume psychotherapy and medication.

Intermittent explosive disorder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is a behavioral disorder characterized by explosive outbursts of anger, often to the point of rage, that are disproportionate to the situation at hand (i.e., impulsive screaming triggered by relatively inconsequential events). Impulsive aggression is unpremeditated, and is defined by a disproportionate reaction to any provocation, real or perceived. Some individuals have reported affective changes prior to an outburst (e.g., tensionmood changes, energy changes, etc.).[1]

The disorder is currently categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) under the “Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders” category. The disorder itself is not easily characterized and often exhibits comorbidity with other mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorder.[2] Individuals diagnosed with IED report their outbursts as being brief (lasting less than an hour), with a variety of bodily symptoms (sweating, stuttering, chest tightness, twitching, palpitations) reported by a third of one sample.[3] Aggressive acts are frequently reported accompanied by a sensation of relief and in some cases pleasure, but often followed by later remorse.

Intermittent explosive disorder


By Mayo Clinic Staff

The exact cause of intermittent explosive disorder is unknown, but the disorder is probably caused by a number of environmental and biological factors.

  • Most people with this disorder grew up in families where explosive behavior and verbal and physical abuse were common. Being exposed to this type of violence at an early age makes it more likely these children will exhibit these same traits as they mature.
  • There may be a genetic component, causing the disorder to be passed down from parents to children.
  • Brain chemistry.There may be differences in the way serotonin, an important chemical messenger in the brain, works in people with intermittent explosive disorder.

People with other mental illnesses — such as mood, anxiety or personality disorders — or certain medical conditions — such as Parkinson’s disease or traumatic brain injury — may display aggressive behaviors. However, they would not be diagnosed as having intermittent explosive disorder because the cause is from another condition.

Aggressive Behavior

Written by Amber Erickson Gabbey | Published on 23 December 2013
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on 23 December 2013

What Is Aggressive Behavior?

Aggressive behavior is behavior that causes physical or emotional harm to others, or threatens to. It can range from verbal abuse to the destruction of a victim’s personal property. People with aggressive behavior tend to be irritable, impulsive, and restless.

Aggressive behavior is intentional, meaning it’s done on purpose, violates social norms, and causes a breakdown in a relationship. Emotional problems are the most common cause of aggressive behavior.

Occasional outbursts of aggression are common and even normal. Aggressive behavior is a problem because it occurs frequently or in a pattern. Generally speaking, aggressive behavior stems from an inability to control behavior, or from a misunderstanding of what behaviors are appropriate.

Aggressive behavior can be reactive, or in retaliation. It can also be proactive, as an attempt to provoke a victim. It can be either overt or secretive.

Aggressive behavior can also be self-directed.

The key to handling aggressive behavior is to understand what the cause is.

Part 2 of 4: Causes

What Causes Aggressive Behavior?

A variety of factors can influence aggressive behavior, including:

  • family structure
  • relationships with others
  • work or school environment
  • societal or socioeconomic factors
  • individual characteristics
  • health conditions
  • psychiatric issues
  • life experiences


Aggression in children is often a byproduct of poor parenting, biological factors, or a lack of relationship skills. In many cases, the child is exposed to aggression or violence and imitates that behavior. A child might receive attention for it from parents, teachers, or peers. When parents ignore the behavior or unknowingly reward it, they can further encourage it.

In some children, aggressive behavior is a result of the manic stage of bipolar disorder. It can also be caused by irritability due to depression.

Sometimes, children will lash out due to fear or suspicion. This is more common in cases of schizophrenia, paranoia, or other psychotic conditions.

Aggression can also be a byproduct of the inability to deal with emotion, especially frustration. This is common in children who have conditions on the autism spectrum or mental retardation. If they become frustrated, they may be unable to rectify or verbalize the situation effectively. Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other disruptive disorders may show lack of attention, lack of understanding, or impulsiveness. The consequences can be viewed as aggressive behaviors, especially if they disrupt social situations.


In adults, aggression can develop from negative life experiences or mental illness. In some cases, people who suffer from depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) unintentionally exhibit aggressive behaviors as a result of their condition. For those without an underlying medical or emotional disorder, aggressive behavior is usually a response to frustration. It can also occur when someone stops caring about others or the consequences of their behavior.

Part 3 of 4: Treatments

How Is Aggressive Behavior Treated?

To work through aggressive behavior, a person must identify the primary cause and underlying factors.

The most common way to treat or reduce aggressive behavior is psychotherapy. One method is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches a person how to control his or her behavior. It can also help a person to develop coping mechanisms and the ability to assess behavioral consequences. Talk therapy can help a person understand the causes of aggression and work through those feelings.

These therapies help people regulate emotion, identify triggers, and develop coping skills.

Part 4 of 4: Prognosis

What Is the Outlook For Aggressive Behavior

Unaddressed aggression can lead to more aggression and violent behavior.

Intermittent explosive disorder


By Mayo Clinic Staff

Explosive eruptions, usually lasting less than 30 minutes, often result in verbal assaults, injuries and the deliberate destruction of property. These episodes may occur in clusters or be separated by weeks or months of nonaggression. In between explosive outbursts, the person may be irritable, impulsive, aggressive or angry.

Aggressive episodes may be preceded or accompanied by:

  • Irritability
  • Increased energy
  • Rage
  • Racing thoughts
  • Tingling
  • Tremors
  • Palpitations
  • Chest tightness
  • Feeling of pressure in the head

Depression, fatigue or relief may occur after the episode.



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